Sedition and the oppression on Freedom of Speech

A society can be superior as it were in case its rules are raised within the circle of questions. Contrasts ought to be invited. As it were through the exchange, can we make this nation better? If dissent isn’t savage, the Government has no right to stifle it. In a vibrant democracy, disagreement and criticism of the Government is a major issue of public debate. Due to vague arrangements, the Supreme Court cancelled Section 66A of the IT Act. After that numerous individuals had addressed whether the same ought to be done with  Section 124A of the IPC. Presently, this address is being inquired once more after the capture of Kanhaiya Kumar under Section 124A within the anti-national case in JNU.


“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent, we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

                                                                                             – George Washington

The British entered India as Merchants, and their primary objective was to win benefits by carrying on exchange in India. In arrange to win most extreme benefits from Indian exchange and commerce and to create an imposing business model of exchange and commerce, they competed with other European powers.                                                                  

The British too created political intrigued to thrust in their restraining infrastructure of exchange and commerce and started the method of growing their political control in Bengal by the triumph within the fight of Plassey and get the control of Diwani by the triumph of Buxar. From at that point on till 1857, the British East India Company through wars, strategy and administrative measures made it an arrangement to get increasingly of financial benefits by fleecing the Indian rancher, artisan and little and medium dealers. This prepare is called colonialism and India got to be a colony of the British.

It was far away to give rights to people of India,  rather suppress Indian’s, many oppressive laws were imposed on him. Section 124a is one of them. Sedition was not an offence when the IPC was enacted, later it was added to IPC in 1970.

This Law was enacted by the British Government, which later adopted the Indian constitution.

Freedom of Speech

Speech is God’s gift to mankind. Through speech a human being conveys his thoughts, sentiments and feeling to others. Freedom of Speech and expression is thus a natural right, which a human being acquires on birth. When India was under the colonial rule of Britain, they set up their own policies which kept them in control over the territory.

Freedom of  Speech and expression is a political right to express one’s feelings and opinions. Under this, any person can not only disseminate ideas but also has the right to exchange any kind of information. However, this right is not universal, and it may be imposed from time to time by appointment. This right may be circumvented within the occasion of the scorn of court, within the occasion of a danger to Indian’s solidarity, integrity and sovereignty, adversely affecting foreign relations.

In a nation with a composite culture like India, all citizens such as theists, nonbelievers and the otherworldly have the correct to precise themselves. It is the extreme obligation of popular government to tune in to their sees; evacuating unimportant thoughts from society is the duty of the country’s administration.

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

                                                                                                     – Harry S. Truman

Article 19 – Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc.

Article 19(1) states that all citizens shall have the right:-

  • freedom of speech and expression;
  • to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • form associations or unions;
  • move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
  • to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

Freedom of expression welcomes discourses that offer assistance within the trade of thoughts vital for the improvement of society. It is fundamental to specific a conclusion around the political framework of the nation. The Government acts more mindfully when it comes to knowing that its strides are being checked and the steps being taken can be challenged or criticized.

Article 19(2)  to 19(6) imposed certain restriction on the right of freedom of speech.

Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras  1950 SCR 594

Patanjali Sastri, J. held that ˜Freedom of Speech and Press lay at the foundation of all democratic organizations, for without free political discussion, no public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the process of Government, is possible.

Indian Express v. Union of India, (1985) 1 SCC 641

In this case, it has been held that the Press plays a really noteworthy part within the law based apparatus. The Courts have an obligation to maintain the flexibility of Press and discredit all laws and authoritative activities that abbreviate that opportunity.


According to Section 124A  sedition meant to spread a feeling of dissatisfaction against the government, policy and administrative authorities established by law, whereas treason is the disrespect towards the nation, the work done against the unity and integrity of the nation, and the complete denial of national culture and heritage, i.e. while treason is against the nation.

The term sedition came to light in the last few years when Khaniya Kumar and his associates were accused of sedition.[1] After this, there was a flood-like accusations of Sedition on peoples. Whoever spoke against the Government was addressed as a traitor.

“A party getting 51% of the vote in an election does not mean that the remaining 49% have to lock the tongue.”

Section 124A states that “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government estab­lished by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

Section 124A of the IPC relating to treason is incomplete and vague in its definition and is sometimes a reiteration of the black law enacted during the colonial reign.

This stream came into existence in 1870. In 1908, under this, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was sentenced to 6 years for one of his articles. At that time, Tilak wrote an article in his newspaper Kesari titled “Desh ka Durbhagya”.In 1922, the British made Mahatma Gandhi accused of treason under this section.

The primary claim was recorded in 1891 under Section 124A of the IPC. At that time, a case was enrolled with respect to the publication of a daily paper Bangobasi. The editor of the daily paper was blamed for criticizing the Age of Consett Bill in the article. In this case, the jury seems not to  reach any choice. The editor of the daily paper was discharged on safeguard. The charges against him were dropped after a statement of regret.[2]

Today, this law has become so popular among governments that a sedition law was imposed on a village in Kundakulam, Tamil Nadu, because they were not in favor of building a nuclear plant there. Not only this, in 2014, sedition law was also introduced in Jharkhand against the tribals opposing displacement. Even praising a Pakistani player can be said to fall under the category of Sedition.

Queen Empress v. Jogendra Chandra Bose, 1891

Jogendra Chandra Bose was the editor of a daily paper, as he was denounced of composing a piece against the British Government. Bangobasi, composed a piece criticizing the Age of assent of Charge for posturing a danger to religion and for its coercive relationship with Indians. His articles too commented on the negative financial effect of British colonialism. Bose was indicted and charged of surpassing the limits of genuine feedback and affecting devout feeling. The Judge dismissed the resistances supplication that there was no specify of resistance in his article. Be that as it may, the procedures against the Bose were dropped after he tended a statement of regret.[3]

Queen Empress v. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, 1897

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was tried for sedition on 3 occasions (in the years 1897, 1908 and 1916). He was accused of  ‘contempt’ of the British Government in India. These charges were framed on the basis of lectures and speeches written in his newspapers.

Queen Empress v. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1922

Mahatma Gandhi was attempted for conspiracy in 1922 for composing a politically ‘sensitive’ article in a magazine called Young India. He was charged with causing contradict against the British Government conjointly sentenced him to 6 a long time detainment

Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar, 1962 

This case was the first case of Sedition in any Court of free India. In this case, for the first time, the Constitutionality of the Sedition law was challenged within the nation. Whereas hearing the case, the Supreme Court too clarified the distinction between the nation and the government of the nation. Kedar Nath Singh, a part of the Forward Communist Party in Bihar, was blamed of making a discourse to upbraid the at that point ruling government and call for the insurgency. The Supreme Court gave the judgment within the Kedarnath suit, saying that “a citizen has each right to criticize and talk against the government unless it is advancing viciousness.”

Oppression on Freedom of Speech

Intellectual, who are in favor of the sedition law accept that Section 124A of the IPC enables the government to counter anti-national, separatist and fear-based oppressor elements. It maintains a strategic distance from endeavors to topple an equitably chosen government by savagery and illicit implies. It is known that the changeless presence of government built up by law is a basic condition of the soundness of the state.

According to these Intellectual, in the event that reformatory activity is adjusted for disdain of court, at that point, a correctional activity ought to be taken against the scorn of government. Today, different States are confronting Maoist radical, and this law is vital to bargain with them.

Section 124 (a) was inserted in IPC  before 135 during the British period in 1870 since the Indian revolutionary at that time utilized to raise their voice by composing, talking and disturbing against the progressive English run the show. To bargain with all this, the British included this area to the law so that no one seems to talk against the off-base approaches of the government and in case they talked, they can be attempted for treason and put in imprison.

The provisions made under Section 124A of the IPC are so vague that people can easily be accused of treason by taking cover of them. Many people have been arrested under the same ambiguous provisions under this section since before independence. These include social workers, leaders, agitators, journalists, teachers and even students.     On charges of giving anti-national trademarks and addresses, the later rebellion of numerous individuals like  Delhi’s JNU students, previous Delhi College teacher SAR Geelani, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, essayist and social dissident Arundhati Roy, doctor and extremist Binayak Sen Charged.

If an elected government is not performing as per the established standards and citizens do not have the right to give their opinion on the issues related to it, then the selection of the government itself is not beneficial. This is why the right to freedom of expression is  necessary in democratic nations. This is the basis of democracy.

Freedom of expression welcomes discourses that offer assistance within the trade of thoughts vital for the improvement of society. It is fundamental to specific a conclusion around the political framework of the nation. The Government acts more mindfully when it comes to knowing that its strides are being checked and the steps being taken can be challenged or criticized.

This law was ordered in 1870 by Tomas Macaulay in 1860 to secure the British Raj. Nowadays, the law of sedition is nothing but dark spots in our republic, which makes each citizen not as it were in words, but too within the signal of actuating wrongdoing against the government.

England, the nation executing this law, has cancelled this law in our nation, due to which we have no reason to carry the burden of the ancient colonial law indeed nowadays.


In a vibrant democracy, disagreement and criticism of the government is a major issue of public debate. The expression of disagreement towards the actions of the state cannot be regarded as Sedition. An individual cannot be indicted for Sedition by the expression of a thought which isn’t in congruity with the approaches of the government. The right to free discourse and expression is a basic component of democracy, at the side Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which gives for rebellion, ought to be rethought or repealed.

Rights not expressly composed within the constitution such as – Right of freedom of opinion, of conscience and Right to Disagree in a solid and develop popular government An critical put ought to be found. As it were after such courses of action will peoples’ cooperation in vote based system increment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Define Section 124A of IPC?
  2. Difference between sedition and treason?
  3. Define freedom of Speech?



[2] Queen Empress v. Jogendra Chandra Bose, 1891

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